The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will be shaken to its foundations, but it will survive. The most problematic question for the party, of course, is who will carry its presidential flag in the 2023 elections, when President Muhammadu Buhari will step down… If Tinubu survives the wolves’ ambush on his party, the race is over – My rainfall, December 31, 2021

Over the past three years, I’ve gotten into the dangerous habit of forecasting what the new year might bring, broadly speaking. The above quote was taken from the article I wrote on New Year’s Eve 2022, six months before the APC presidential primary.

Aside from my disastrous predictions that the Super Eagles would qualify for the World Cup and that Senegal and Algeria would be bankable bets, I was cashing in from the rise of Tinubu to Wike’s showdown with Atiku Abubakar and from the return of the Bronzes. of Benin stolen from the resilience of the insurgency and its franchises.

Let me start this time with one of the most frequently asked questions: who is likely to win the presidential election on February 25, 2023? My guess is that APC presidential candidate Ahmed Bola Tinubu will win. I’ll explain it later.

Concerns have been raised about whether the elections will go ahead, especially in light of worsening violence in the south-east, including the burning of INEC offices, insurgency in the north-east and parts of Kaduna in the north-west.

I have witnessed and reported on over half a dozen general elections in Nigeria and not a single one has been free from fear of actual or potential violence beforehand. However, virtually all of them stuck, no matter how controversial the end result was. The next one will be no different. It will hold.

A closely related question is whether a winner will emerge on the first ballot. This is not an unfounded concern. For the first time since 1979, when NPN’s Shehu Shagari and UPN’s Obafemi Awolowo could potentially have gone to a second ballot, the chances of a clear winner failing to emerge in the first round of next year’s presidential election never seemed more likely.

Will a combination of the damage done by Governor Nyesom Wike and Peter Obi’s faction of the Labor Party be enough to undermine the leading candidates, Tinubu and Abubakar, especially the latter, and force a replay? I doubt it.

Even though this might be the first time in over 40 years that a presidential election would keep the top two candidates looking over their shoulders all the way to the finish line, my guess, again, is that a first-ballot winner will emerge. .

Tinubu is likely to win, and the presidential election will not be repeated. Why? The Southeast and South-South, two areas that were once PDP strongholds, have been severely undermined by the party’s crisis and the rise of Obi. Otherwise, the APC would have had a much more difficult task at the polls, especially given President Muhammadu Buhari’s poor record on the economy, jobs and security.

Some may argue that the south-east recorded less than three percent of the total votes that brought the APC to power in the last two election cycles versus 16.6 percent for the PDP. However, with the rise of Obi, the opposition party’s control in that region has never been more precarious. The region may, once again, not vote for APC candidate Tinubu, but his loss will not be Abubakar’s gain.

And while the PDP candidate may do better in some South-South states like Delta (where his running mate is from) and perhaps Akwa Ibom, his performance in these places would be eroded in Cross River, where Gov. Benedict Ayade defeated carefully to the PDP. before defecting to the ruling party.

In Edo, where the showdown between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his estranged benefactors (Adams Oshiomhole and Wike) has entered the fisticuff phase, the fight promises to leave the Governor and the PDP hanging by the skin of their teeth not only in February, but also in the twilight of Obaseki’s remaining 18 months in office.

Perhaps the biggest electoral blow to the PDP in the South-South will come from Rivers State, the region’s largest PDP vote bank, second in the entire South after Oyo. I predict, based on what I’ve heard, that while there are fewer than five billboards for any presidential candidate in the main city of Port Harcourt as of today, before the end of January, Wike, the most influential of the governors of the G-5, openly declare your support for Tinubu.

He will be followed by another member of the group and governor of Oyo state, Seyi Makinde. Depending on how they hedge his bet, the remainder – Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia); and Samuel Ortom (Benue) – will be left fighting for their political lives.

Of course, it would be wrong to suggest that the next presidential election would be decided solely in the South, the East, or the South-South. While events in these regions could significantly reduce the chances of a repeat and tip the balance in favor of the APC candidate, they could also instigate sympathy votes in many north central states for Abubakar, who will be perceived as a gang victim. southern. until.

This sentiment, which will be reinforced by the region’s traditional rulers and clerics, will spill over into the battleground states of the north-west, where Abubakar will perform better than anticipated in Kano, Kebbi, Katsina, Jigawa and perhaps even Sokoto, largely part at the expense of NNPP’s Rabiu Kwankwaso and Obi.

In general, however, a series of influential moneybags and governors who have a vested interest in the continuation of the ruling party at the center will ensure, by all means, that the APC candidate maintains the upper hand over his rival in the North. West; while the northeast, apart from Adamawa, Taraba and perhaps Bauchi, will be in for an important game for the ruling party.

The situation in the north-central states that used to be the beacon of Nigerian politics has been undermined by the toxicity of identity politics and conflicts between farmers and herders, especially under the Buhari government. The APC broom sweep will be hampered in Niger, Kwara, Benue and perhaps the Plateau states, where Atiku and Obi could make windfall gains mainly in religious circles, but barely enough to flip the general electoral map.

Of the six southwestern states, Lagos, Oyo and Osun will be the most interesting. Due to the cosmopolitan nature of Lagos (especially the relatively large population of south-easters), I predict that Obi would likely get more votes in Lagos than he would in three of the five south-eastern states combined.

Osun has a history of wild voter swings. But a reconciliation between Rauf Aregbesola and his successor, Gboyega Oyetola, may be crucial to the outcome even though Governor Ademola Adeleke will see the presidential election as the first major test of his influence.

Abubakar’s performance in Lagos and Oyo will be severely hampered by the position of party leaders in the region that the PDP has not been fair to the south, giving Tinubu a stronger lead not only in Lagos and Oyo, but also in other Southwestern countries. state

Despite the discussions in elite circles about issue-based politics, the virulence of the politics of money, tribe and religion will be the likes of which Nigeria has not seen for decades. In addition, the first presidential election could influence the outcome of tightly contested gubernatorial races in several states two weeks later.

While the general election is not the only tree in the forest of 2023, it is the tree that will define the forest in the year. Until the new president has been sworn in in May and the National Assembly has been inaugurated in June, don’t wait long. After the elections, it promises to be a six-month year.

There would be no honeymoon. The new president will fall in a perfect storm: inflation of almost 22 percent; unemployment at 33 percent; shortage of foreign currency and decrease in income from the sale of oil; looming debt crisis; a population that grows above the GDP; an inefficient, asymmetric and inflated public service; and confidence in the government was broken.

It will get worse, at first, as the new president’s men fight to displace the old one, in a combustible lobbying industry we haven’t seen in eight years.

The gasoline subsidy will go away, leading to higher starting prices and a demand for higher public sector wages from union leaders who know the truth but prefer to play arcade. To address the outrageous difference between the official and black market exchange rates, expect the new government to adjust the official exchange rate from the current N430-450/$ to around N550/$ in the first instance.

Also, expect a reduction in CBN’s current overextended role, among other inevitable changes. The turnaround on the new naira notes that started with raising the withdrawal limits to N500.00 will not end there. The deadline for the full introduction of the new naira notes will also be extended from the end of January.

The official reason will be the insufficiency of the new bills, but the untold reason will be that on the eve of an election, when cash is everything, politicians will inevitably stage a coup that will confirm that the CBN, like okra proverbial, never grows taller than the farmer.

Where will the new government find money? Plus taxes, tolls and levies. And perhaps by providing a stimulus package for upstream oil and gas production and the real sector. There is a scam called “oil theft”, which supposedly costs the country millions of dollars a day.

What is closer to the truth, however, is that the “theft” is largely a fiction created by savvy creditors who owe the banks an excess of $6 billion for downstream oil and gas assets they bought, but who are unwilling or prepared to pay. . They have no appetite for new investment to renew the assets.

Has anyone asked why wells have to keep pumping, knowing full well that products will be diverted? Why doesn’t anyone just turn off the faucet to mitigate the loss? And why does this complaint not prevail in assets managed by foreign oil companies? I hope the new government will tackle this demon and insist on efficiency as the first step to increase the country’s production quota and also increase revenue.

In almost eight years, Buhari has used up his lucky charm and that of politicians who look like him, whether or not they are members of his party. Perhaps the year would also reveal that his greatest legacy is the gift of a dangerously divided, utterly cynical and hopeless country desperately seeking greatness.

It is a year in which, to preserve sanity, common sense recommends cautious optimism.